[EDITORIALS]Sore losers

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[EDITORIALS]Sore losers

Having failed to advance to the quarterfinals after losing to Korea in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Italy has shown some excessive outrage. There has been a stream of groundless criticism and vilification against Korea. It is regrettable that the attacks are coming from not only soccer officials but from senior government officials.

The Italian team was no doubt a favorite to move on, having appeared in the quarterfinals in the last three tournaments. In terms of the skill of the players, team strategy and past records, the odds were clearly in favor of the Italians over the Koreans.

As great as the expectations were, the shock, disappointment and anger must be just as great and we can understand that. Considering the rich emotions of the Italian people, just like ours, it is not surprising that they would not take the loss quietly. But the reactions would only be convincing if they could be backed up by rational and objective analysis.

The play by the Italians in Tuesday's round of 16 game was disappointing. There was very little to show the reputation and might of the Azurri. The former French team coach Aime Jacquet observed that the Italians had played a lackluster game. The French publication Le Monde blamed the Italians' defeat on a lack of fighting spirit, strife among the players, inadequate strategy and old players. Korean soccer commentators agreed that the Italians played "dirty soccer," using their elbows in the air, for example, when outside the referee's vision.

The Italians would do well to look back on themselves before they blame the officials for the loss. They should answer, for example, whether their reaction is just an expression of shock after being upset by the Koreans. They ought to realize also that the majority of the world does not see eye to eye with them. The owner of Perugia, the Italian club where the Korean striker Ahn Jung-hwan plays, clearly stepped beyond the bounds of decency when he unleashed abusive words on the Korean striker and Korean soccer in general.

The Korean team must show the grace of a winner. It would be silly to counter every single complaint leveled by the loser. We hope the Koreans will stage another upset in the quarterfinals to surprise the world again.
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